1237.) Daniel 11:21-45

January 28, 2014

Dan11 end of time

Daniel 11:21-45   (NRSV)

21 In his place shall arise a contemptible person on whom royal majesty had not been conferred; he shall come in without warning and obtain the kingdom through intrigue.

This was fulfilled in the successor of Seleucis III, named Antiochus IV. He did not come to the throne legitimately because it was strongly suspected that he murdered his older brother, the previous king. The other potential heir (the son of Seleucus III) was imprisoned in Rome.

–David Guzik (and all further comments in red)

Antiochus IV took the name Epiphanes, which means “manifest.”  The name suggests that he claimed to be the earthly manifestation of Zeus.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

22 Armies shall be utterly swept away and broken before him, and the prince of the covenant as well. 23 And after an alliance is made with him, he shall act deceitfully and become strong with a small party. 24 Without warning he shall come into the richest parts of the province and do what none of his predecessors had ever done, lavishing plunder, spoil, and wealth on them. He shall devise plans against strongholds, but only for a time. 25 He shall stir up his power and determination against the king of the south with a great army, and the king of the south shall wage war with a much greater and stronger army. But he shall not succeed,

Dan11 Line-in-the-Sand

This was fulfilled when Antiochus Epiphanes carried on the feud between the dynasties but pretended friendship and alliance to catch them off guard. Despite massive efforts and epic battles, Antiochus Epiphanes did not stand, and his army was swept away.  The defeat of Antiochus Epiphanes at his second campaign against Egypt was important, because Egypt beat Antiochus with the help of Rome. At the end of it all, Antiochus Epiphanes and his kingdom were under the dominion of Rome.

In a famous battle, the Roman Navy defeated the navy of Antiochus Epiphanes. After the battle, a Roman general drew a circle around Antiochus in the dirt and demanded to know if he would surrender and pay tribute to Rome – and demanded to know before he stepped out of the circle. From that point on there was no doubt: Antiochus Epiphanes took his orders from Rome and was under Roman dominion.  Hence the expression to draw a line in the sand.

for plots shall be devised against him 26 by those who eat of the royal rations. They shall break him, his army shall be swept away, and many shall fall slain. 27 The two kings, their minds bent on evil, shall sit at one table and exchange lies. But it shall not succeed, for there remains an end at the time appointed. 28 He shall return to his land with great wealth, but his heart shall be set against the holy covenant. He shall work his will, and return to his own land.

This was fulfilled when Antiochus Epiphanes returned from Egypt, bitter from defeat. He vented his anger against Jerusalem, which was already shaken because Antiochus sold the office of High Priest and persecuted the Jewish people to conform to Greek culture, forsaking the faith and traditions of their fathers.

29 “At the time appointed he shall return and come into the south, but this time it shall not be as it was before. 30 For ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall lose heart and withdraw. He shall be enraged and take action against the holy covenant. He shall turn back and pay heed to those who forsake the holy covenant. 31 Forces sent by him shall occupy and profane the temple and fortress. They shall abolish the regular burnt offering and set up the abomination that makes desolate.

Antiochus Epiphanes set up an image of Zeus at the temple altar. He demanded sacrifice to this image, and later desecrated the temple by sacrificing a pig on it. “It was in truth an abomination, which brought a desolate condition to the Temple, for now no one would come to worship at all.” (Wood)

32 He shall seduce with intrigue those who violate the covenant; but the people who are loyal to their God shall stand firm and take action. 33 The wise among the people shall give understanding to many; for some days, however, they shall fall by sword and flame, and suffer captivity and plunder.

In his attack on Jerusalem Antiochus IV is said to have killed 80,000 Jews, taken 40,000 more as prisoners, and sold another 40,000 as slaves. He also plundered the temple, robbing it of approximately $1 billion by modern calculations.

34 When they fall victim, they shall receive a little help, and many shall join them insincerely. 35 Some of the wise shall fall, so that they may be refined, purified, and cleansed, until the time of the end, for there is still an interval until the time appointed.

Daniel concluded his predictions about Antiochus IV Epiphanes in verse 35 and now begins to prophesy concerning the more distant future.  Daniel’s language in these verses seems larger than life and does not fit what is known from history about Antichus.  Further, this prophecy refers to the “time of the end” (v. 40).  At the conclusion of the conflict between the antichrist and his political enemies, he will meet his end at the “beautiful holy mountain” (v. 45), the temple mount of Jerusalem — perhaps in connection with the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:13-16).  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

36 “The king shall act as he pleases. He shall exalt himself and consider himself greater than any god, and shall speak horrendous things against the God of gods. He shall prosper until the period of wrath is completed, for what is determined shall be done. 37 He shall pay no respect to the gods of his ancestors, or to the one beloved by women; he shall pay no respect to any other god, for he shall consider himself greater than all. 38 He shall honor the god of fortresses instead of these; a god whom his ancestors did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. 39 He shall deal with the strongest fortresses by the help of a foreign god. Those who acknowledge him he shall make more wealthy, and shall appoint them as rulers over many, and shall distribute the land for a price.

The Time of the End

Dan11 Time-of-the-End

The precise points may be cloudy, but the general idea is clear. The end will be marked by great conflict, culminating in the world’s armies gathering in the Promised Land to do final battle.  Ultimately there is no hope for the Antichrist or for any of his followers.

40 “At the time of the end the king of the south shall attack him. But the king of the north shall rush upon him like a whirlwind, with chariots and horsemen, and with many ships. He shall advance against countries and pass through like a flood. 41 He shall come into the beautiful land, and tens of thousands shall fall victim, but Edom and Moab and the main part of the Ammonites shall escape from his power. 42 He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 He shall become ruler of the treasures of gold and of silver, and all the riches of Egypt; and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall follow in his train. 44 But reports from the east and the north shall alarm him, and he shall go out with great fury to bring ruin and complete destruction to many. 45 He shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he shall come to his end, with no one to help him.

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Music:

How wonderful to know that we come to the end of our time and death draws nigh — there is One to help us.  He has gone before and prepared a place for us.  We need not fear.  Many of the great hymns of the faith spend their last stanza facing death in Jesus’ name, and what encouragement we can find there as we live through our troubles here on earth knowing that we are laying up treasure in heaven.  HERE  is one example:  “My Faith Looks Up to Thee.”

And here is the story of this hymn:

Ray Palmer wrote these lyr­ics up­on re­ceiv­ing a vi­sion of Christ short­ly af­ter his grad­u­a­tion from Yale Un­i­ver­si­ty, while work­ing as a tu­tor at a New York school. How­ev­er, he kept them to him­self un­til meet­ing Low­ell Ma­son in Bos­ton, Mas­sac­hu­setts. When Ma­son asked him to write some­thing for a new hymn­al, Palm­er dug out his old notes and pro­duced these lyr­ics, writ­ten two years ear­li­er. Af­ter tak­ing the lyr­ics home and read­ing them, Ma­son com­posed this tune. Sev­er­al days lat­er he saw Palm­er again and said:  “You may live ma­ny years and do ma­ny good things, but I think you will be best known to pos­ter­i­ty as the au­thor of ‘My Faith Looks Up to Thee.’”

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New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Yes I am with you always.    http://biblegodquotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/bible-god-quotes-132.jpg
line in the sand.    http://connections.teenchallengeusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Line-in-the-Sand.jpg
the time of the end.    http://www.joelstrumpet.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Time-of-the-End.jpg

1236.) Daniel 11:1-20

January 27, 2014

Dan11 mapDaniel 11:1-35   (NRSV)

The Kings of the South and the North

As for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to support and strengthen him.

“Now I will announce the truth to you. Three more kings shall arise in Persia.

The Persian Empire tried to wipe out the Jewish people during the reign of Xerxes, through the plot of Haman (as shown in the Book of Esther).

–David Guzik (and all following comments in red)

The fourth shall be far richer than all of them, and when he has become strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the kingdom of Greece.

The Greek Empire tried to wipe out the Jewish people during the reign of Antiochus IV, when he attempted to kill every Jew who did not renounce their commitment to God and embrace Greek culture.

Then a warrior king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion and take action as he pleases.

Dan11 Alexander the Great

This was fulfilled in Alexander the Great, who certainly was a “warrior king.”

And while still rising in power, his kingdom shall be broken and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to the dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be uprooted and go to others besides these.

After Alexander’s death, none of his descendants succeeded him. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Alexander did leave three possible heirs: a half brother named Philip, who was mentally deficient; a son who was born after Alexander died; and an illegitimate son named Hercules. The half-brother and the posthumous son were first designated co-monarchs, each with a regent. But fighting amongst the regents eventually resulted in the murder of all possible heirs.

After the death of all Alexander’s possible heirs, four generals controlled the Greek Empire.

“Then the king of the south shall grow strong, but one of his officers shall grow stronger than he and shall rule a realm greater than his own realm. 

Dan11 map-greek-emp-div

This was fulfilled in Ptolemy I of Egypt, who exerted his control over the Holy Land. Soon after the division of Alexander’s Empire, the Ptolemies dominated this region. Ptolemy I had a prince named Seleucus, who rose to power and took dominion over the region of Syria. He became more powerful than his former Egyptian ruler. The Seleucids are identified with the Kings of the North, and the Ptolemies were the Kings of the South. The dynasties of the Seleucids and the Ptolemies fought for some 130 years. The stronger of the two always held dominion over the Holy Land.

After some years they shall make an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north to ratify the agreement.

This was fulfilled in the marriage between Antiochus II (of the Seleucids) and Berenice (daughter of Ptolemy II). There was peace for a time because of this marriage, but it was upset when Ptolemy II died.

But she shall not retain her power,

Once Ptolemy II died, Antiochus II put away Berenice and took back his former wife, Laodice.

and his offspring shall not endure. She shall be given up, she and her attendants and her child and the one who supported her.

Dan11 she danger

Laodice didn’t trust her husband Antiochus II; so she had him poisoned.

After the murder of Antiochus II, Laodice had Berenice, her infant son, and her attendants killed.  After this reign of terror, Laodice set her son (Selecus II) on the throne of the Syrian dominion.

“In those times a branch from her roots shall rise up in his place. He shall come against the army and enter the fortress of the king of the north, and he shall take action against them and prevail.

This was fulfilled in the person of Ptolemy III, who was the brother of Berenice (the branch of her roots). Avenging the murder of his sister, Ptolemy III invaded Syria and humbled Selecus II.

Even their gods, with their idols and with their precious vessels of silver and gold, he shall carry off to Egypt as spoils of war. For some years he shall refrain from attacking the king of the north; then the latter shall invade the realm of the king of the south, but will return to his own land.

10 “His sons shall wage war and assemble a multitude of great forces, which shall advance like a flood and pass through, and again shall carry the war as far as his fortress.

This was fulfilled in Seleucus III and Antiochus III, the two sons of Seleucus II. Both were successful generals, but Seleucus III ruled only a short time and was succeeded by his brother.  In a furious battle, Antiochus III took back the Holy Land from the dominion of the Ptolemies.

11 Moved with rage, the king of the south shall go out and do battle against the king of the north, who shall muster a great multitude, which shall, however, be defeated by his enemy. 12 When the multitude has been carried off, his heart shall be exalted, and he shall overthrow tens of thousands, but he shall not prevail.

This was fulfilled when Antiochus III was defeated at the battle of Raphia. Because of that loss he was forced to give back dominion over the Holy Land to Ptolemy IV.

13 For the king of the north shall again raise a multitude, larger than the former, and after some years he shall advance with a great army and abundant supplies.

14 “In those times many shall rise against the king of the south. The lawless among your own people shall lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they shall fail. 15 Then the king of the north shall come and throw up siegeworks, and take a well-fortified city. And the forces of the south shall not stand, not even his picked troops, for there shall be no strength to resist. 16 But he who comes against him shall take the actions he pleases, and no one shall withstand him. He shall take a position in the beautiful land, and all of it shall be in his power.

Dan11 Antiochos_III

This was fulfilled when Antiochus III invaded Egypt again, gaining final control over the armies of Ptolemy V and over the Holy Land.  Jews living in the Holy Land helped Antiochus III because the Jewish people resented the rule of the Egyptian Ptolemies.  This decision later proved unwise.

17 He shall set his mind to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and he shall bring terms of peace and perform them. In order to destroy the kingdom, he shall give him a woman in marriage; but it shall not succeed or be to his advantage.

An extremely rare  ancient gold coin was uncovered in 2010 in the excavations of the University of Michigan and University of Minnesota at Tell Kedesh in Israel near its Lebanese border.  The coin is 2,200 years old and was minted in Alexandria, Egypt in 191 BCE.   The Israel Antiquities Authority says the coin is the heaviest and has the highest contemporary value of any coin ever found in an excavation in Israel. The coin weighs almost one ounce (27.71 grams), while most ancient gold coins weighed 4.5 grams. The denomination is called a mnaieion, meaning a one-mina coin, and is equivalent to 100 silver drachms, or a mina of silver.  It is plausible that the second-century BCE mnaieia actually depict cryptic portraits of the reigning queens. Consequently, the queen represented on the Tell Kedesh mnaieion may actually be Cleopatra I, daughter of Antiochus III, whose marriage to Ptolemy V in 193 sealed the formal end of the Fifth Syrian War.

An extremely rare ancient gold coin was uncovered in 2010 in the excavations of the University of Michigan and University of Minnesota at Tell Kedesh in Israel near its Lebanese border. The coin is 2,200 years old and was minted in Alexandria, Egypt in 191 BCE. The Israel Antiquities Authority says the coin is the heaviest and has the highest contemporary value of any coin ever found in an excavation in Israel. The coin weighs almost one ounce (27.71 grams), while most ancient gold coins weighed 4.5 grams.
The denomination is called a mnaieion, meaning a one-mina coin, and is equivalent to 100 silver drachms, or a mina of silver. It is plausible that the second-century BCE mnaieia actually depict cryptic portraits of the reigning queens. Consequently, the queen represented on the Tell Kedesh mnaieion may actually be Cleopatra I, daughter of Antiochus III, whose marriage to Ptolemy V in 193 sealed the formal end of the Fifth Syrian War.

This was fulfilled when Antiochus III gave his daughter Cleopatra to Ptolemy V of Egypt. He did this hoping to gain permanent influence and eventually control in Egypt. To the great disappointment of Antiochus III, the plan did not succeed because Cleopatra wasn’t faithful to her Egyptian husband at all. (This is not the Cleopatra of Marc Anthony and Julius Caesar fame; she came 100 years later.)

18 Afterward he shall turn to the coastlands, and shall capture many. But a commander shall put an end to his insolence; indeed, he shall turn his insolence back upon him. 19 Then he shall turn back toward the fortresses of his own land, but he shall stumble and fall, and shall not be found.

This was fulfilled when Antiochus III turned his attention towards the areas of Asia Minor and Greece. He was helped by Hannibal, the famous general from Carthage. But a Roman General, Lucius Cornelius Scipio, defeated Antiochus in Greece.  Antiochus planned to humiliate Greece but was humiliated instead. He returned to his former regions, having lost all that he gained and died shortly after.

After this defeat Antiochus III had an inglorious end. Needing money badly for his treasury, he resorted to pillaging a Babylonian temple and was killed by enraged local citizens.

20 “Then shall arise in his place one who shall send an official for the glory of the kingdom; but within a few days he shall be broken, though not in anger or in battle. 21 In his place shall arise a contemptible person on whom royal majesty had not been conferred; he shall come in without warning and obtain the kingdom through intrigue.

After the inglorious end of the king of the North, his successor, Seleucus III, the eldest son of Antiochus III, would raise taxes and meet a soon end.  Seleucus III was assassinated, probably by his brother Antiochus IV, a vile and contemptible person.

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Music:

All these ins and outs and ups and downs of history, of current events, of our own lives — all are safely in God’s hands.  HERE  is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

__________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
map.   http://kenraggio.com/Daniel-11-Prophecies.jpg
Alexander the Great.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ac/BattleofIssus333BC-mosaic-detail1.jpg
map showing King of the North and King of the South.    http://endtimepilgrim.org/map-greek-emp-div.jpg
Danger.    http://wordofawoman.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/sid-logo-danger.jpg
Antiochus III (from The Louvre).  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b6/Antiochos_III.jpg/250px-Antiochos_III.jpg
gold coin.    http://www.coinlink.com/News/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Gold_Octodrachm_aug20101.jpg

1235.) Daniel 10

January 24, 2014
The Man upon the Waters.  digital art by Ted Larson.

The Man upon the Waters. digital art by Ted Larson.

Daniel 10   (NRSV)

The prophet reveals a final vision concerning the future reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but looking beyond his reign to another that culminates at the end of the age.  (The Reformation Bible)

Conflict of Nations and Heavenly Powers

In the third year of King Cyrus of Persia

By this time, the first wave of exiles had returned to Jerusalem under the leadership of Ezra (Ezra 1-2).

a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. The word was true, and it concerned a great conflict. He understood the word, having received understanding in the vision.

At that time I, Daniel, had been mourning for three weeks. I had eaten no rich food, no meat or wine had entered my mouth, and I had not anointed myself at all, for the full three weeks.

Some think that Daniel was in mourning because so few Jews had returned with Ezra from exile. Others believe it was because Ezra faced severe opposition in rebuilding the temple.

Daniel did not go back with Ezra’s group of exiles because he was about 84 years old at this time. Daniel could serve the exiles better from his high position in government than he could with them in Jerusalem.

–David Guzik (and all following comments in red)

On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris), I looked up and saw a man clothed in linen, with a belt of gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the roar of a multitude.

The description of this angel carries with it much of the same glory as belonging to the Lord:

Revelation 1:12-16   (NIV)

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

I, Daniel, alone saw the vision; the people who were with me did not see the vision, though a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone to see this great vision. My strength left me, and my complexion grew deathly pale, and I retained no strength. Then I heard the sound of his words; and when I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a trance, face to the ground.

10 But then a hand touched me and roused me to my hands and knees. 11 He said to me, “Daniel, greatly beloved, pay attention to the words that I am going to speak to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.” So while he was speaking this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 He said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We can’t pass this over lightly. An angel was dispatched because of Daniel’s prayer. This is another of many reminders in the Book of Daniel that prayer matters. It isn’t merely a therapeutic exercise for the one who prays.

13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia

Since this prince was able to oppose the angelic messenger to Daniel, we know this was more than a man. This prince was some kind of angelic being, and we know he was an evil angelic being because he opposed the word of God coming to Daniel and stood against the angelic messenger.

Ephesians 6:12   (NIV)

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

opposed me twenty-one days. So Michael, one of the chief princes,

Michael is elsewhere in Scripture depicted as a commander of the holy angels (Jude 9; Revelation 12:7).  Here is a glimpse of spiritual battles waged in heavenly places and affecting events on earth (cf. Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 12:7-9).  (The Reformation Bible)

came to help me, and I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia, 14 and have come to help you understand what is to happen to your people at the end of days. For there is a further vision for those days.”

15 While he was speaking these words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and was speechless. 16 Then one in human form touched my lips, and I opened my mouth to speak, and said to the one who stood before me, “My lord, because of the vision such pains have come upon me that I retain no strength. 17 How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For I am shaking, no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”

18 Again one in human form touched me and strengthened me. 19 He said, “Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe. Be strong and courageous!” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” 20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Now I must return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I am through with him, the prince of Greece will come. 21 But I am to tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth. There is no one with me who contends against these princes except Michael, your prince.

a further thought on prayer–

I once thought it was the great preachers or those people who could give substantial sums of money who were the most effective Christians.  I am convinced now that the most sacred and creative thing, the greatest work any person can ever do, is to thank God, to praise him, and to pray.  The person sitting in a wheelchair in grateful praise and adoration may be of more value to God than anyone else in his kingdom.  God does not play favorites, not does he throw people away.  No one need be useless.  All of us can be thankful and pray.  There is power in thankfulness and prayer.

–Dennis F. Kinlaw

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Music:

Prayer.  HERE  is Jesus Culture and “We Cry Out.”

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New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Larson.    http://home.earthlink.net/~danika13/Daniel%20Index.htm
God hears prayer.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_c__qjMyuQ0w/TJVWEzJm3TI/AAAAAAAAAls/pPByxshnqvg/s320/god-hears-prayer.gif

1234.) Daniel 9

January 23, 2014

Dan9 70 years

Daniel 9   (NRSV)

Daniel’s Prayer for the People

Daniel recounts the revelation he received concerning the prophecy of Jeremiah about the seventy years of Jerusalem’s desolation (Jeremiah 25:11,12; 29:10).  Significantly, the revelation follows Daniel’s prayer confessing the sinfulness of God’s people and the justice of Jerusalem’s desolation, and seeking the favor of God for the restoration of the city and the temple.  (The Reformation Bible)

In the first year of Darius son of Ahasuerus, by birth a Mede, who became king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to the prophet Jeremiah, must be fulfilled for the devastation of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.

When exactly did the seventy years begin?  At the time of the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar?  The time of Daniel’s own captivity?  Or is it to be understood as a round number for a human lifetime?  Opinions vary.

Then I turned to the Lord God, to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying,

The Prayer of Daniel.  digital art by Ted Larson.

The Prayer of Daniel. digital art by Ted Larson.

“Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

“Righteousness is on your side, O Lord, but open shame, as at this day, falls on us, the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. Open shame, O Lord, falls on us, our kings, our officials, and our ancestors, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him, 10 and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by following his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.

Daniel’s petitions are based on the character of God (His greatness, awesomeness, faithfulness, righteousness, forgiveness, mercies) and on His interests (Your people, Your city, Your holy mountain, Your sanctuary).

–William MacDonald

11 “All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. So the curse and the oath written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against you. 12 He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers, by bringing upon us a calamity so great that what has been done against Jerusalem has never before been done under the whole heaven. 13 Just as it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us. We did not entreat the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and reflecting on his fidelity. 14 So the Lord kept watch over this calamity until he brought it upon us. Indeed, the Lord our God is right in all that he has done; for we have disobeyed his voice.

15 “And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and made your name renowned even to this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly. 16 O Lord, in view of all your righteous acts, let your anger and wrath, we pray, turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain; because of our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors, Jerusalem and your people have become a disgrace among all our neighbors. 17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his supplication, and for your own sake, Lord, let your face shine upon your desolated sanctuary. 18 Incline your ear, O my God, and hear. Open your eyes and look at our desolation and the city that bears your name. We do not present our supplication before you on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of your great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, listen and act and do not delay! For your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people bear your name!”

The Seventy Weeks

Dan9 70 weeks

“The Seventy Weeks” is a name often applied to Daniel 9:24-27, a prophecy that presumably, in contrast to the general prophecies in Daniel 2 and 7, pinpointed the exact time within the fourth kingdom when the Messiah would appear.  Almost all scholars agree that the “weeks” designate 490 years.  The prophecy is (1) divided–the successive periods are described as 7, 62, 1;  (2) dated–”from” and “until” in 9:25;  (3) determinative–Its purposes regard Israel (v. 24), redemption (v. 24), the Messiah (vv. 24, 26-27),  the sacrifices (v. 27), and Jerusalem (vv. 25-27);  and debated (see below). 

Three primary views are held.  (1) The critical view posits that the “prophecy” was written by a pseudo-Daniel in 165 B.C. and synchronizes (inaccurately) with the history between 586 B.C. (Jerusalem’s fall) and 164 B.C. (Antiochus IV Epiphanes).  (2) The dispensational view has the sixty-ninth week terminating before Jesus’ crucifixion, leaving the seventieth (the present age being a “great parenthesis”) to be fulfilled in the great tribulation.  (3) The conservative or traditional view asserts that the seventieth week was introduced by Jesus’ baptism and bisected (three and a half years) by his death, thus causing the sacrifices to cease (v. 27).  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

20 While I was speaking, and was praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God on behalf of the holy mountain of my God— 21 while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen before in a vision, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He came and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come out to give you wisdom and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your supplications a word went out, and I have come to declare it, for you are greatly beloved. So consider the word and understand the vision:

24 “Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city: to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. 25 Know therefore and understand: from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing,

Messiah Cut Off.   digital art by Ted Larson.

Messiah Cut Off. digital art by Ted Larson.

and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.

Many interpreters agree that the assailants are the armies of Titus who destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  Others believe the prince himself is the Antichrist of the future.  (The Reformation Bible)

Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator.”

_________________________

Music:

There are great numbers of books purporting the interpret Daniel’s revelations.  I do not claim to understand all the viewpoints, or even to give you a good representation of the various points of view.  As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2 — For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.  For that reason,  I give you a song about our Savior, crucified and risen; desolations cease as we draw nearer to the Lord.  HERE  is “The Risen Christ” by Keith Getty and Phil Madeira.

_________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
70 years.    http://www.sil.org/sites/default/files/styles/history_colorbox/public/history/70th_logo.jpg
Larson.    http://home.earthlink.net/~danika13/Daniel%20Index.htm
70 weeks.    http://www.danielsseventyweeks.com/Picture_Files/Jerusalem_Panaroma_70weeks.gif

1233.) Daniel 8

January 22, 2014

Dan8 Goat-Vs-Ram

Daniel 8   (NRSV)

Daniel resumes writing in Hebrew for the last five chapters.  He used Aramaic in 2:4 to 7:28.  (The Reformation Bible)

Vision of a Ram and a Goat

In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after the one that had appeared to me at first. In the vision I was looking and saw myself in Susa the capital, in the province of Elam, and I was by the river Ulai. I looked up and saw a ram standing beside the river.

Vision of the Ram.  digital art by Ted Larson.

Vision of the Ram. digital art by Ted Larson.

It had two horns. Both horns were long, but one was longer than the other, and the longer one came up second. I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. All beasts were powerless to withstand it, and no one could rescue from its power; it did as it pleased and became strong.

In this same chapter (Daniel 8:20) this ram was clearly identified as representing the Medo-Persian Empire, which succeeded the Babylonian Empire.

It wasn’t a stretch to use a ram to represent the Medo-Persian Empire. “Ammianus Marcellinus, a fourth century historian, states that the Persian ruler bore the head of a ram as he stood at the head of his army.” (Wood) “The ram was the national emblem of Persia, a ram being stamped on Persian coins as well as on the headdress of Persian emperors.” (Strauss)

The ram was noted for the proportion of its two horns — one was higher than the other. This was an accurate prediction of the partnership between the Medes and the Persians, because the Persians were larger and stronger in the partnership. They also emerged after the Medes (the higher one came up last).

“The principle theatre of their wars, says Calmet, was against the Scythians, northward; against the Greeks, westward; and against the Egyptians, southward.” (Clarke)

–David Guzik, and all following comments in red

As I was watching, a male goat appeared from the west, coming across the face of the whole earth without touching the ground.

Vision of the Goat.  digital art by Ted Larson.

Vision of the Goat. digital art by Ted Larson.

The goat had a horn between its eyes. It came toward the ram with the two horns that I had seen standing beside the river, and it ran at it with savage force. I saw it approaching the ram. It was enraged against it and struck the ram, breaking its two horns. The ram did not have power to withstand it; it threw the ram down to the ground and trampled upon it, and there was no one who could rescue the ram from its power. Then the male goat grew exceedingly great; but at the height of its power, the great horn was broken, and in its place there came up four prominent horns toward the four winds of heaven.

In this same chapter (Daniel 8:21-22) this male goat was clearly identified with Greece and its horns are identified with the rulers of the Greek Empire.  This prophetic description of the male goat was proved to be accurate regarding the Greek Empire:

  • The Greek Empire rose from the west of previous empires.
  • The Greek Empire rose with great speed; Alexander defeated the Persian Empire in only three years. (suddenly . . . without touching the ground).
  • The Greek Empire had a notable ruler, Alexander the Great (a notable horn).
  • The Greek Empire had a famous war with the Medo-Persian Empire (I saw him confronting the ram).
  • The Greek Empire and the Medo-Persian Empire greatly hated each other (with furious power . . . moved with rage). Some of the greatest, fiercest battles of ancient history were fought between the Greeks and the Persians.
  • The Greek Empire conquered the Medo-Persian Empire (no one that could deliver the ram from his hand).
  • The reign of the notable leader of the Greek Empire was suddenly cut short when Alexander died at age thirty-three (the large horn was broken).
  • After the end of Alexander the Great’s reign, the Greek Empire was divided among four rulers (in place of it four notable ones came up).
  • The four rulers of the Greek Empire after Alexander ruled their own dominions, not the entire empire together (came up toward the four winds of heaven). 
  • The greatness of Alexander’s Empire was not only in its vast dominion but also in its cultural power. Alexander the Great was determined to spread Greek civilization, culture, and language across every land he conquered (the male goat grew very great).

As God guided history, He used Alexander’s passion to spread Greek culture to prepare the world for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of Alexander’s influence, koine (common) Greek became the common language of the civilized world – and the language of the New Testament.

Out of one of them came another horn, a little one, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the beautiful land (note: Palestine).

Dan8 coin

According to v. 23, this “little horn” symbolizes a wicked ruler who will arise in one of the four Greek kingdoms after a long interval of time (“at the latter end of their kingdom”).  The descriptions of the actions of this ruler (vs. 9-14; 23-25) indicate that he is Antiochus IV Epiphanes, ruler of the Selucid kingdom from 175-164 B.C.  (The Reformation Bible)

On the coin above:  the image is Antiochus IV, and the inscription in Greek is translated  “Antiochus, image of God, bearer of victory.”

10 It grew as high as the host of heaven. It threw down to the earth some of the host and some of the stars, and trampled on them. 11 Even against the prince of the host it acted arrogantly; it took the regular burnt offering away from him and overthrew the place of his sanctuary. 12 Because of wickedness, the host was given over to it together with the regular burnt offering; it cast truth to the ground, and kept prospering in what it did.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes attempted to abolish traditional Jewish worship and Hellenize the Jewish people by force.  He blasphemed the Lord, caused the sacrifices to cease in Jerusalem, and desecrated the temple by offering a pig on the altar in the Most Holy Place.  He burned copies of Scripture. By some estimates he was responsible for the murder of more than 100,000 Jews.  All this he did with apparent success.

13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one that spoke, “For how long is this vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled?” 14 And he answered him, “For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”

The temple was cleansed and rededicated under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus in December, 164 B.C.  (The Reformation Bible)

Gabriel Interprets the Vision

Gabriel and Daniel in the Citadel.  digital art by Ted Larson.

Gabriel and Daniel in the Citadel. digital art by Ted Larson.

15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I tried to understand it. Then someone appeared standing before me, having the appearance of a man, 16 and I heard a human voice by the Ulai, calling, “Gabriel, help this man understand the vision.”

The angel Gabriel is mentioned four times in Scripture:  twice he appears to Daniel (here and 9:21), once to Zechariah (Luke 1:19), and once to Mary (Luke 1:26).  His name means “God is mighty.”

17 So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I became frightened and fell prostrate. But he said to me, “Understand, O mortal, that the vision is for the time of the end.”

18 As he was speaking to me, I fell into a trance, face to the ground; then he touched me and set me on my feet. 19 He said, “Listen, and I will tell you what will take place later in the period of wrath; for it refers to the appointed time of the end. 20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 The male goat is the king of Greece, and the great horn between its eyes is the first king. 22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power.

23 At the end of their rule,
    when the transgressions have reached their full measure,
a king of bold countenance shall arise,
    skilled in intrigue.
24 He shall grow strong in power,
    shall cause fearful destruction,
    and shall succeed in what he does.
He shall destroy the powerful
    and the people of the holy ones.
25 By his cunning
    he shall make deceit prosper under his hand,
    and in his own mind he shall be great.
Without warning he shall destroy many
    and shall even rise up against the Prince of princes.
But he shall be broken, and not by human hands.

Some interpreters perceive the Antichrist in the description of the “little horn” of this chapter.  Antiochus IV is viewed as a type pointing forward to a later manifestation of satanic power in the person of the Antichrist.  (The Reformation Bible)

26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true. As for you, seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.”

27 So I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days; then I arose and went about the king’s business. But I was dismayed by the vision and did not understand it.

_________________________

Music:

The hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” was written by William Cowper (1731-1800).  It is re­port­ed­ly the last hymn Cow­per ev­er wrote, with a fas­cin­at­ing (though un­sub­stan­ti­at­ed) story be­hind it.

Cow­per oft­en strug­gled with de­press­ion and doubt. One night he de­cid­ed to com­mit su­i­cide by drown­ing him­self. He called a cab and told the driv­er to take him to the Thames Riv­er. How­ev­er, thick fog came down and pre­vent­ed them from find­ing the riv­er (ano­ther ver­sion of the story has the driv­er get­ting lost de­liber­ate­ly). After driv­ing around lost for a while, the cab­by fin­al­ly stopped and let Cow­per out. To Cowper’s sur­prise, he found him­self on his own door­step: God had sent the fog to keep him from kill­ing him­self. Even in our black­est mo­ments, God watch­es over us.

HERE  is Lori Sealy singing a hymn that Daniel would surely understand.

God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.
He plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs and works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread
are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace.
Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.

God moves in a mysterious way that’s often not my own
His wisdom guides each path I take, His mercy leads me home.

His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour
The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work in vain.
God is His own interpreter and He will make it plain.

God moves in a mysterious way that’s often not my own.
His wisdom guides each path I take, His mercy leads me home.
Help me to trust when I don’t understand
Grant me the peace of resting in your plan.

God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.
He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace.
Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.

_________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Grecian Empire takes Persia.    http://kenraggio.com/He-Goat-Vs-Ram.jpg
Larson.   http://home.earthlink.net/~danika13/Daniel%20Index.htm
coin.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/92/AntiochusIVEpiphanes.jpg

1232.) Daniel 7

January 21, 2014
The Ancient of Days.  digital art by Ted Larson.

The Ancient of Days. digital art by Ted Larson.

Daniel 7   (NRSV)

Visions of the Four Beasts

In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head as he lay in bed. Then he wrote down the dream:

This first vision — one of four described between Daniel 7 through 12 — was the most comprehensive. The other three visions go into greater detail within the general framework of this first vision.

I, Daniel, saw in my vision by night the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, and four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. 4 The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings.

The Lion with Wings.  digital art by Ted Larson.

The Lion with Wings. digital art by Ted Larson.

Then, as I watched, its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a human being; and a human mind was given to it.

The first beast was more majestic than any of the following beasts (lions and eagles are “kings” of their realms). But this majestic beast was humbled (wings were plucked off) and made human (a man’s heart was given to it).

A little later (Daniel 7:17) Daniel tells us that these four beasts are four kingdoms ruling over the earth. The first kingdom is the Babylonian Empire, represented by a lion and an eagle. This fits in well with the majesty and authority of Nebuchadnezzar in his reign over the empire of Babylon.

Jeremiah used both the lion and the eagle as pictures of Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 49:19-22), and Babylon’s winged lions can be seen at the British Museum today.

–David Guzik (and all following comments in red)

Another beast appeared, a second one, that looked like a bear.

Dan7 bearIt was raised up on one side, had three tusks in its mouth among its teeth and was told, “Arise, devour many bodies!”

The second beast didn’t have the majestic bearing of either the lion or the eagle. A bear is slower, stronger, and more crushing than a lion — and this bear had a voracious appetite for conquest (Arise, devour much flesh!)

The bear represented the Medo-Persian Empire, succeeding the Babylonian Empire. In this partnership between the Medes and the Persians, the Persians dominated the relationship. Most think the three ribs represent their three great military conquests: Babylon, Egypt and Lydia.

The slow, crushing armies of the Medo-Persian Empire were well known. They simply overwhelmed their opponents with superior size and strength.

After this, as I watched, another appeared, like a leopard. The beast had four wings of a bird on its back and four heads; and dominion was given to it.

Dan7 leopard

The leopard was known for its sudden, unexpected attacks. This one was especially swift (with four wings), and clever (having four heads).

Each animal is mighty, but dominates its prey in a different way. “The lion devours, the bear crushes, and the leopard springs upon its prey.” (Strauss)

The leopard represented the Greek Empire. Alexander the Great quickly conquered the civilized world by age 28. “Nothing in the history of the world, was equal to the conquests of Alexander, who ran through all the countries from Illycrium and the Adriatic Sea to the Indian Ocean and the River Ganges; and in twelve years subdued part of Europe, and all Asia.” (Clarke)

After his sudden death at age thirty-three, his empire was divided into four parts (four heads). Specifically, the four heads were Casander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy, who inherited Alexander’s domain after his death.

After this I saw in the visions by night a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth and was devouring, breaking in pieces, and stamping what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that preceded it, and it had ten horns.

The Beast with Ten Horns.  digital art by Ted Larson.

The Beast with Ten Horns. digital art by Ted Larson.

I was considering the horns, when another horn appeared, a little one coming up among them; to make room for it, three of the earlier horns were plucked up by the roots. There were eyes like human eyes in this horn, and a mouth speaking arrogantly.

The fourth beast was indescribable, and uniquely horrific in its power and conquest.

In the ancient world horns expressed the power and fearsomeness of an animal. This fourth beast was so strong it had ten horns.

In historical fulfillment, the fourth beast represents the Roman Empire, which was the largest, strongest, most unified and enduring of them all.

Judgment before the Ancient One

As I watched,
thrones were set in place,
    and an Ancient One took his throne,
his clothing was white as snow,
    and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames,
    and its wheels were burning fire.
10 A stream of fire issued
    and flowed out from his presence.
A thousand thousands served him,
    and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
The court sat in judgment,
    and the books were opened.

11 I watched then because of the noise of the arrogant words that the horn was speaking. And as I watched, the beast was put to death, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. 13 As I watched in the night visions,

I saw one like a human being
    coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
    and was presented before him.

The Son of Man.   digital art by Ted Larson.

The Son of Man. digital art by Ted Larson.

14 To him was given dominion
    and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
    should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
    that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
    that shall never be destroyed.

Daniel’s Visions Interpreted

15 As for me, Daniel, my spirit was troubled within me, and the visions of my head terrified me. 16 I approached one of the attendants to ask him the truth concerning all this. So he said that he would disclose to me the interpretation of the matter: 17 “As for these four great beasts, four kings shall arise out of the earth. 18 But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever—forever and ever.”

The divine interpretation of the dream shows that this vision covers the same material as Nebuchadnezzar’s vision in Daniel 2, which also described the rise of four empires, which are succeeded by the kingdom of God.

Yet Daniel’s vision was different, seeing the kingdoms from God’s perspective, not man’s. Nebuchadnezzar saw the present and future world empires in the form of a stately and noble statue of a man. Here God showed how He regarded them: as ferocious and wild animals who devour and conquer without conscience.

19 Then I desired to know the truth concerning the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped what was left with its feet; 20 and concerning the ten horns that were on its head, and concerning the other horn, which came up and to make room for which three of them fell out—the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke arrogantly, and that seemed greater than the others. 21 As I looked, this horn made war with the holy ones and was prevailing over them, 22 until the Ancient One came; then judgment was given for the holy ones of the Most High, and the time arrived when the holy ones gained possession of the kingdom.

23 This is what he said: “As for the fourth beast,

there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth
    that shall be different from all the other kingdoms;
it shall devour the whole earth,
    and trample it down, and break it to pieces.
24 As for the ten horns,
out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,
    and another shall arise after them.
This one shall be different from the former ones,
    and shall put down three kings.
25 He shall speak words against the Most High,
    shall wear out the holy ones of the Most High,
    and shall attempt to change the sacred seasons and the law;
and they shall be given into his power
    for a time, two times, and half a time.
26 Then the court shall sit in judgment,
    and his dominion shall be taken away,
    to be consumed and totally destroyed.
27 The kingship and dominion
    and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven
    shall be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High;
their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,
    and all dominions shall serve and obey them.”

28 Here the account ends. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly terrified me, and my face turned pale; but I kept the matter in my mind.

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Music:

“My thoughts greatly terrified me,” Daniel says.  How often is that not the case for us as we face our future with its unknowns!  Yet it need not be so, for the Lord has promised us everlasting peace: Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way . . . (2 Thessalonians 3:16).   HERE  is Libera and John Rutter’s serene “Deep Peace.”

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of Christ,
of Christ the light of the world to you.
Deep peace of Christ to you.

_________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Larson.   http://home.earthlink.net/~danika13/Daniel%20Index.htm
leopard.   http://www.friendsofgod.org/assets/daniel_7_leopard_sm.jpg

1231.) Daniel 6

January 20, 2014
Daniel.  a serigraph by John August Swanson.

Daniel. a serigraph by John August Swanson.

Daniel 6   (NRSV)

The Plot against Daniel

It pleased Darius

Darius the Mede is not referred to in surviving historical sources outside the Scripture, and there is no interval between Belshazzar and the accession of Cyrus of Persia.  Commentators have suggested that “Darius the Mede” (Daniel 5:31) could be a throne name for Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire; a title; or a designation for Gobryas, a general who had defected from Nebuchadnezzar to Cyrus and later captured Babylon.  Cyrus made Gobryus governor over the territories the Persians took from the Babylonians.  (The Reformation Bible)

to set over the kingdom one hundred twenty satraps, stationed throughout the whole kingdom, and over them three presidents, including Daniel; to these the satraps gave account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Soon Daniel distinguished himself above all the other presidents and satraps because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king planned to appoint him over the whole kingdom. So the presidents and the satraps tried to find grounds for complaint against Daniel in connection with the kingdom. But they could find no grounds for complaint or any corruption, because he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption could be found in him. The men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”

No skeletons in Daniel’s closet.  Just an unwavering faithfulness to God.

So the presidents and satraps conspired and came to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the presidents of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an interdict, that whoever prays to anyone, divine or human, for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions. Now, O king, establish the interdict and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.”

The unchangeableness of their law is also attested in extrabiblical writings.  (The Reformation Bible)

Therefore King Darius signed the document and interdict.

The proposal would appear to Darius to be more political than religious, and would serve to consolidate his authority over newly conquered territories.  (The Reformation Bible)

Daniel in the Lions’ Den

10 Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously.

What was Daniel’s custom in prayer?

He prayed in his upper room – this was private prayer, made with no intention to impress others.

He prayed with his windows open toward Jerusalem, remembering the place of sacrifice even when there was no sacrifice.

He prayed according to Scripture, because in 1 Kings 8 Solomon asked God to give special notice to the prayers of His people when they prayed towards Jerusalem and the temple: And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place (1 Kings 8:3).

He knelt down on his knees, praying just as Jesus did, (Luke 22:41), as Stephen (Acts 7:60), as Peter (Acts 9:40), as Paul and other leaders in the church (Acts 20:36), and as Luke (Acts 21:5). “Kneeling is a begging posture and we must all come to God as beggars.” (Heslop)

He prayed three times that day, knowing that though a little prayer is good, much prayer is far better. We also remember that Daniel was one of three governors over an empire – yet still had time to pray. “That does not tell you how often he prayed, but how often he was in the posture of prayer. Doubtless he prayed 300 times a day if necessary — his heart was always having commerce with the skies; but thrice a day he prayed formally.” (Spurgeon)

He prayed and gave thanks, because great prayer is filled with thanksgiving. “Prayer and praise should always go up to heaven arm in arm, like twin angels walking up Jacob’s ladder, or like kindred aspirations soaring up to the Most High.” (Spurgeon)

–David Guzik

11 The conspirators came and found Daniel praying and seeking mercy before his God.

Dan6 praying
12 Then they approached the king and said concerning the interdict, “O king! Did you not sign an interdict, that anyone who prays to anyone, divine or human, within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions?” The king answered, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13 Then they responded to the king, “Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the interdict you have signed, but he is saying his prayers three times a day.”

14 When the king heard the charge, he was very much distressed.

He realized he had been manipulated by his advisers.

He was determined to save Daniel, and until the sun went down he made every effort to rescue him. 15 Then the conspirators came to the king and said to him, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no interdict or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”

16 Then the king gave the command, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!” 17 A stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, so that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no food was brought to him, and sleep fled from him.

Dan6 Freese

Psalm 22:21-22   (NIV)

Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
    save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.

Daniel Saved from the Lions

19 Then, at break of day, the king got up and hurried to the den of lions. 20 When he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out anxiously to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Daniel then said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.” 23 Then the king was exceedingly glad and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

Because of this faith, Daniel is recognized in Hebrews 11:33 as one who by faith stopped the mouths of lions.

24 The king gave a command, and those who had accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. Before they reached the bottom of the den the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.

My mother used to say — What you put into the lives of others, comes back into your own.

25 Then King Darius wrote to all peoples and nations of every language throughout the whole world: “May you have abundant prosperity! 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people should tremble and fear before the God of Daniel:

For he is the living God,
    enduring forever.
His kingdom shall never be destroyed,
    and his dominion has no end.
27 He delivers and rescues,
    he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth;
for he has saved Daniel
    from the power of the lions.”

28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

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Music:

A wonderful piece for today!  HERE  is “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel,”  sung by the Westminster Chorus.

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New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)  New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Swanson.    http://www.johnaugustswanson.com/ImagesUpload/Daniel_600.jpg
Daniel praying in his room.    http://novotempo.com/audios/files/2013/06/Neemias-orou.jpg
Daniel praying in the lions’ den, by Emerson L. Freese, Jr.   http://jeraldfinney.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/romans13danielinlionsden.jpg

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